I didn’t think it’d be like this
the cold world opening up
too vast, endless, and terrible,
so much darkness
and fearful things, and I
a lone dreamer, cast aside and
for safety,
a cozy, quiet place
to call a new home

old home
miles away, over the Pacific,
big Cali cities
and the empty Midwestern plains,
my home is sleeping
among the green mountains,
it is safe
fields sprawling out
between ridges and tiny towns,
roads winding up
the rolling hills, smiles and laughter
of friends like family
holding me in their warmth

dreams and reality
but it is too far
when they tear my soul,
break my heart, and laugh
at my simple dreaming,
no one heard me crying
through long
winter nights, steeped in
political protests
and pollution debates,
up through May
my heart was breaking
I bandaged it with another
cold compress
just tried to ignore my pain
and cover my fear

that’s why you came
your warm eyes, windswept hair
long form standing
in the sunlight of a Jeju summer day,
I a pink and white flower
soaking up the summer,
you the cool gray surface
of moonlit cliffs,

we climbed a hill
overlooking the ocean,
and I know
all the little ships
on the big blue sea
have differing journeys
some long, some short,
and I knew
the answer to my quiet fierceness
longing for a place to rest,
lay in the hypothetical
journey I might take
by your side,
now I
stand next to fearlessness
your strength becomes my
steady beacon in the night,
keep on, it calls,
through the violent storms
come here, you cry,
come into my open arms.



I will not let a coward
tell me what is brave
for our fear is but a symptom
of soulless misery,
remember that night you kissed me
and came out of the shower all
wet-headed and glimmering?
I won’t ask you to
pull magic from your
alcohol-impaired mind,
as honey spilled from your lips
all down my neck and
over the pillowcase…
your sweet, empty promises
and the blood trickling down
your leg,
were both pumped
from a young, beating heart
curse my numb fingers, the candles
and the rain
in the downpour I claimed
we’d never break my heart
and you said that’s okay,
so I gave only
my summer mouth a
good washing out
and never cried over you,
if only I knew how to behave—
but you won’t remember
the first night at City Hall
smoky room and soju
and old news, can’t be reprinted…
those eyes, an afterimage
long-gone their cold
scintillating light
on the black summer sky,
I will paint on the night,
your honey blood the ink
of each word I write,
this is not the first or second
betrayal of my intention,
so I’ll come around
burning, the last time
with a vengeful fire
I’ll rescue my lost words.


I envision my eyes opening
in a dull sort of haze
at the gray dawn light
filtering through summer clouds,
Korea does not know
sunny summer days or
romantic, burning orange sunsets,
instead it’d just be us
setting the mood on fire
and dancing round the flames,
the rain pouring down
tall glass windows
in the early morning,
a cool reminder of
passing time and
heavy like the
dark clouds, hanging low
on the line
between ocean and sky
lovers and friends.


dry mouth

all i can see is gray
from this room against a wall,
and i can’t even say
that it’s miserable, because
poor children everywhere need places
to lay down their heads and
get some peace,
and i made memories
of this time on the sleepy island
these monotone hours,
the mornings when blue light
creeps up the wall
like a cat, silent and
cunning, deceptively
announcing the sun’s approach,
a liar, like the soft arms
around my body
i woke up thinking someone
would be next to me,
it was just angry words
from my supervisor
for mistakenly
signing the wrong dotted lines,
for my sleep and my
good dreams,
for being dizzy
from drinking on a Monday,
and now I just have a
dry mouth
that tastes like someone else,
definitely not the time
for speaking rationally.


Deep forest green are the trees,
their backdrop the gray

Jeju skies of winter,
we fly
down a mountain road, it
reminds me of that time
I broke through
the clouds
sleeping over the island,
but I could still see
Mt. Halla,
“jejune” sounds like
Jeju, and it echoes my past
of naive happiness
as if I were screaming
into a canyon,
but instead of returning
my voice just keeps travelling
on and on and lost forever,
a song repeats
in my head, it tastes
like cigarette smoke,
car exhaust, and
fried red bean bread,
steaming warm
in my gloved hands,
bought in a grimy subway station
in old Seoul,
the young man
who is singing, he knows
the dreary days I
keep seeing, he feels
this lukewarm winter,
painting the landscape
a dull pallet
of breathtaking wonders
gone cold, and
old joys made
I wrote this about winter in Jeju, and the depressed feelings I experienced during my winter here. One of the things that made me feel better during that time was Kim Namjoon’s mixtape, as I felt like he understood what I was going through. I wanted to capture that experience for a long time, but I couldn’t really write until I started feeling better.